The staff and volunteers of the American Red Cross of Hawaii are deeply saddened about the passing of long-time volunteer and philanthropist LeBurta Gates Atherton on October 22, 2017, at the age of 100.
As a Grey Lady volunteer for the Red Cross during World War II, LeBurta would share stories of the aid she provided to service members. “When the war started, I started making bandages and passed them to the service people. I also made helmet covers. I used to make fishnets for my husband so I designed a little net for the helmets that the military men could stick leaves in and camouflage themselves.”
“We also went to the hospital to try and cheer-up [the soldiers],” said LeBurta. “We helped write letters to their families.” Her volunteer work for the wounded soldiers also included helping them to find telephone numbers, reading them newspapers, serving them food and having friendly conversations with them about their families.
Even after her volunteering ended, she was a constant financial supporter of the Red Cross, serving as a Tiffany Circle member and donating generously to the Hawaii Red Cross Centennial.
LeBurta‘s spirit of generosity and commitment to volunteerism were important lessons that her parents taught her at a very young age. “My daddy felt we should give since we were lucky and fairly well off,” LeBurta said. “You get more enjoyment out of your life if you give. I have found that to be true.”
LeBurta continued to successfully pass these lessons down to the next generation as her eldest daughter, Balbi Brooks is a current Red Cross Disaster Volunteer and has assisted in Red Cross response efforts to Hurricane Sandy, Tropical Storm Iselle, Tropical Storm Flossie, and most recently Hurricane Harvey.
We were fortunate to be able to celebrate LeBurta’s 100th Birthday in May, in conjunction with the Centennial of the Hawaii Red Cross. LeBurta also attended our Centennial Military Canteen event in April.
LeBurta Atherton was a wonderful, gracious, and generous woman who blessed our lives and lived our Red Cross mission. She will be greatly missed.